In preparation for worship this Sunday, I invite you to read Galatians 1:13-17, 2:11-21.
The beginning of our scripture passage for Sunday begins with Paul writing to the churches of Galatia, “You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and trying to destroy it.” Paul is one of the great transformation stories in the Bible. Before and after stories are often held up as stories for us to marvel at or aspire to attain. Weight loss, healing from addictions, broken families pieced back together – inspirational before and after stories give us hope that we, too, can change. But Paul lifts up his past only to reveal the grace and power of Christ. If anyone knows about God’s power to change us, it’s Paul. He didn’t transform himself because it was all God’s doing. Paul writes to remind (admonish? convince?) his readers that it is not because of what we do that we have been justified, but because of who Christ is for us.
We are so steeped in our self-improvement, self-help, self-made culture that it can be hard to hear that we are sinners who cannot free ourselves. And yet…I take great comfort in that. I know (from experience) that I cannot transform myself. I can grow in faith, hope, and love, but I cannot be my own savior. I need Jesus for that. As we listen to Paul this week let us give thanks for those things we cannot do, and for all the things God can.
In Peace, Pastor Ruth
Let us pray:
Good and Gracious God, form the minds of your faithful people into your one will. Make us love like you love, forgive like you forgive, extend hospitality like you extend hospitality, and embody your grace. Fix our hearts where true joy is found, your son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Friend. Amen.